Some secret hand signals and a free license - within reason - from coach Wayne Bennett has given Dolphins prop Jarrod Wallace the confidence to be more than a runner of the ball and play what he sees in games.
The Maroons prop scored a try as the Dolphins completed an historic 28-26 comeback win against the Titans, and also set up one for fellow front-rower Mark Nicholls with a short pass before the line that any half would have been happy to deliver.
“Wayne gives me the free license in the sense that if I do it, it better pay off, if it doesn't, you'd better be ready for a clip around the ear,” Wallace said of his penchant for ball-playing and even the occasional kick.
"Am I a frustrated five-eighth? Probably. Frustrated five-eighth in a big man's body.
“I was just enjoying playing against the old team today, and there was a bit of fun and a bit of bantering out in the scrums and a few tackles.
“But I think that's my style of footy to play the way I did today. And I have just got to keep sticking to that and I think that's the best thing for the team.”
Match: Dolphins v Titans
Round 8 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Trailing 26-6 at the break, Wallace said Bennett didn’t say too much to the team when they went to the sheds, but said enough to help inspire the turnaround.
“Wayne kind of gave us – I wouldn't even say a spray – actually, it's quite unusual for how bad we played in that first half and just how many errors and penalties that we had,” Wallace said.
“When we came in, it was very calm and collected. It was quite shocking and he told us that we need to take a few deep breaths and get back to our game plan and get back into the game, which is what we did.
“We were just giving too many easy options for them, giving them penalties and six agains and soft tries, and the only real thing he said to us was ‘I need someone to step up and take charge of this game’ and me personally, I don't think there's any individual, I think it was a massive team effort.
“I thought Isaiya Katoa was absolutely fantastic, our bench middles were fantastic, our starting middles and I think it was a full team effort.
“We needed to change the momentum in that second half and we did and we got the win.”
Wallace scores a wonder try
At every game, Wallace makes sure he can find his family in the crowd, not only to feel their support, but also to receive some tactical advice from his dad Craig as well.
Over the years, the pair have developed a series of hand signals to help Wallace make the right calls on the field, which has helped him back himself to chance his arm.
Here come the Dolphins
“He was there today and I just look up in the crowd at times and we've got hand signals that we've built on over the years, 31 years of playing footy, so there were times where he was telling me I needed to just tuck it under and get forward and there was times there where he was telling me to move the ball around too,” Wallace said.
“My dad was a massive ball-player, a ball-playing front-rower, so I grew up watching him … so I've got that in my game.
"Obviously I know when I’ve got to put it away and just tuck the ball under the wing and run and do the hard yards, but when the opportunity is there, I have got that confidence in my ability to back myself and that's what I did today.”